MSE News

Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca to move back on to 'amber' list in new travel restrictions shake-up – your rights

Sunbeds and parasols on a beach in Ibiza, Spain.

Spain's Balearic Islands – including Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca – are to be moved from the Government's 'green' travel list to the amber list from Monday for travellers returning to England, Scotland and Wales. The change means holidaymakers who are not fully vaccinated or under 18 will have to self-isolate for up to 10 days on their return.

Other changes announced today by transport secretary Grant Shapps, all also effective from 4am on Monday 19 July and applicable to those arriving in England, Scotland and Wales (it's not yet clear if Northern Ireland will follow suit), include:

  • The British Virgin Islands will be moved from the green to amber list.
  • Bulgaria and Hong Kong, which are both on the amber list at the moment, will be added to the green list. 
  • Croatia and Taiwan, also amber currently, will be be added to the green 'watch list', which means they become green but are at risk of moving to amber.
  • Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone will be moved from the amber list to the red list.

Ministers say the moves are based on the latest data and analysis from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors. They said that since the last traffic light review, the rate of coronavirus cases in the Balearics has more than doubled.

The move comes as quarantining is set to be axed from next Monday (19 July) for holidaymakers who are fully vaccinated or under 18 and returning from amber list countries to England, Scotland and Wales (we don't yet know about Northern Ireland). For more on how the traffic light system works and what restrictions apply to each category, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.

Of course, when it comes to international travel at the moment, traffic lights are only half the story, as they only determine the rules for your return. The other big question is whether the country you're going to will let you in. For example, green list Malta will let under-12s and those double-vaccinated in, but that means if you've 12 to 17-year-olds, who the UK doesn't vaccinate, they can't go. For more help, see our list of the big holiday destinations' entry requirements.

Already in the Balearics? You may have to self-isolate on return

If you're already in the Balearics, including Ibiza, Majorca or Menorca, it's important to understand that the amber list rules will apply to anyone arriving back in England, Scotland or Wales after 4am on Monday 19 July. That means if you travel back after that, unless you're fully vaccinated or under 18, you'll need to pay for an extra Covid test and quarantine for up to 10 days.

If you can't do this, unfortunately your only option is to arrange an earlier flight home. You'll likely have to pay for this yourself though and it's possible prices may be inflated as demand may soar with travellers rushing to get back ahead of the deadline. You're also unlikely to be able to claim for this on your insurance but it's worth checking.

Booked a trip to the Balearics? Your cancellation and refund rights

There's nothing to stop you still travelling to the Balearics once it's on the amber list, and for many today's announcement will have little impact, as if you've been fully vaccinated or are under 18 you can still effectively follow green list rules even if returning from an amber list country.

But many who aren't double-jabbed may be left scrambling to rearrange their plans if they face the prospect of having to pay for an extra Covid test and undergo up to 10 days' self-isolation on return. If you have a trip booked but now don't want to travel, here are the key need-to-knows:

  • If your trip is cancelled by the travel firm, you should get a full refund (though it remains to be seen if firms will cancel trips). The rules on this are clear – even if some companies have dragged their feet on implementing them previously in the pandemic. If your flight's cancelled, you're due a full refund within seven days. If your package holiday's cancelled, you're due a full refund within 14 days.

  • If your trip's not cancelled, you may struggle to get a refund – but if you can't, check if you can rebook. Sadly in this situation, trying to get a refund on the sole basis of the Balearics being moved to the amber list may prove difficult.

    As your trip is still running, travel firms are under no automatic obligation to refund you. And travel insurance is unlikely to cover you – cancelling simply because you don't want to self-isolate on your return would likely be deemed 'disinclination to travel', something insurance never covers. (The Association of British Insurers does say you should check with your insurer to be certain though, as some may consider exemptions if you'll be disproportionately affected, eg, if having to quarantine on your return would affect your employment.)

    Of course, if your original booking had flexibility and allows you to cancel penalty-free, you can do that (and many more bookings offer flexibility these days as a result of the pandemic). Even if not though, many firms will allow customers to rebook fee-free, so you may be able to rearrange your trip fee-free or get a voucher or partial refund.

  • The Foreign Office ISN'T currently warning against travel to the Balearics – which affects refund rights and also travel insurance cover. As things stand the Foreign Office hasn't changed its advice and ISN'T warning against non-essential travel. This means two things:

    1) You've no special refund rights for package holidays. If there's a Foreign Office warning against travel when you're due to depart, package holiday firms should refund you under the Package Travel Regulations, even if you cancel your trip yourself – see more on how Foreign Office warnings affect refunds. As there's no warning at the moment though, this doesn't currently apply.

    2) You CAN travel without invalidating your travel insurance. If there's a Foreign Office warning against travel, most travel insurance becomes invalid – but for now, you don't need to worry about this.

  • Remember traffic light rules are reviewed every three weeks – so if you've booked a holiday for later this summer, don't panic. While many who were hoping for quarantine-free trips may be dismayed at the news, travel restrictions are currently changing all the time and they may yet change again.

    So if you've a holiday booked for August or September, your best bet for now may be to do nothing and wait and see what happens. But if you have any flexibility in your booking (for example, being able to cancel penalty-free before travel), make sure you weigh up whether to act before any deadlines kick in.

For much more help on your refund rights in lots of different scenarios, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.

How the traffic light list works

As part of the 'traffic light' system of rules on international travel, countries are placed into one of three categories. This table sets out the current position:

Traffic light system – summary of the rules for those returning to the UK

Category Destinations on list Rules on returning to England/ Northern Ireland/ Scotland/ Wales

Green

27, incl Australia, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel (1), New Zealand, Singapore, Malta and Barbados (1) 

From Mon 19 Jul for Eng/Scot/Wal: 29, also incl Bulgaria, Croatia (1), Hong Kong and Taiwan (1)

See full Eng list / NI list / Scot list / Wal list

• Must take pre-departure test before returning

• Must also take PCR test within two days of return to UK

• DON'T need to quarantine on return, unless you get a positive result

 


Amber

140+, incl much of Europe (eg, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal) and the USA

From Mon 19 Jul for Eng/Scot/Wal: Also incl Balearic Islands and British Virgin Islands

See full Eng list / Scot list / Wal list (no separate NI list) 

 

From Mon 19 Jul: UK residents returning to England, Scotland or Wales who are fully vaccinated or under 18 will effectively follow green rules outlined above. In all other cases:

• Must take pre-departure test before returning

• Must also take PCR test on day two AND day eight after arriving back in the UK
• Must self-isolate for 10 days after arrival – can be at home
• You can end self-isolation early on day five by taking extra test (Eng only)


Red
56, incl Brazil, Egypt, India, Maldives, South Africa, UAE, Tunisia and Uganda

From Mon 19 Jul for Eng/Scot/Wal: 60, also incl Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone

See full Eng list / NI list / Scot list / Wal list
• Must take pre-departure test before returning
• Must also take PCR test on day two AND day eight after arriving back in the UK
• Must undergo 10 days of managed quarantine in hotel, which could be pricey (currently single adult travellers are charged £1,750)

Day two/eight tests and managed quarantine packages must be booked before departure. If booking tests, see our Covid test cost-cutting tips. Also see help booking hotel quarantine packages in England, Northern IrelandScotland and Wales. (1) These countries are on England's 'green watchlist' and so could revert to amber at short notice.

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